Formative Assessment

Posted by tricialauter on August 5, 2011

Looking for various examples of formative assessments, I have come across these two sites recently. To include multiliteracies into the curriculum and the 21st century classroom, there must be a restructuring of assessment. Summative assessments may have their place, but formative assessments provide “as you go” evaluation of a student’s learning-providing a clearer picture of what the student understands and how he or she can synthesize the information within their own lives. This can allow education to be intuitive to students’ needs. But as the burgeoning market of assessments have grown (along with NCLB), testing companies have found a way to package a truly summative assessment and label it formative. As Stephen and Jan Chappius (2008) state, “In reality, this level of testing is often little more than a series of minisummative tests, not always tightly aligned to what was taught in the classroom. There is nothing inherently formative in such tests—they may or may not be used to make changes in teaching that will lead to greater student learning.” Formative assessment is to be “on-going” and “dynamic”; creating an environment where teacher and student use the assessments to encourage further and deeper learning. Providing feedback on a continuous basis, and supporting the development of skills such as self-assessment, can transform a monolithic classroom into a classroom where student and teacher work together to improve learning. One way to provide this two way system is utilizing e-portfolios.

E-Portfolios ( A digital collection of pieces of work that are multimedia in form, e-portfolios allow interaction between the creator (student) and the viewer (teacher or peers). Viewers can provide informative feedback, creators can include various works that provide a broader picture of the skills and knowledge they have, and the portfolio can be edited and added upon as the student progresses through school. When shared among peers, e-portfolios can encourage collective learning.

Cognitive Tutor ( The cognitive tutor is a  computer learning based program that provides real-time feedback and adjusts the problems and pace of learning dependent on the needs of the student. Providing interactive and multimodal approaches to learning math skills, the Cognitive Tutor assesses a students skill as they progress through the program. If the student is struggling with a certain concept, the program will generate new problems that target the student’s weak area.

As policies are enacted that support assessment of all students, the type of assessments must be considered. If we are to truly know the knowledge and skills a student possesses, we must acknowledge the fact that we may not see a complete picture when looking at summative results. Other considerations and additional assessments must be considered.


Chappius, J. & Chappius, S. (2008). The Best Value in Formative Assessment. Educational Leadership, 65, 4, 14-19.


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Blogging in the Classroom and @ Work

Posted by nicholaspelafas on August 4, 2011

Blogging has become one of the most important literacy skills of the 21st century.  While few people are disillusioned enough to think that Facebook or Twitter could actually be valuable for social commentary or as serious discussion forums, blogs have become accepted as a democratic and ‘authorized’ space for digital knowledge production.  The other important aspect of blogging and blog culture is that it allows people or groups to give others continuous updates on a variety of topics and receive feedback.  I want to briefly explore the relationship of blogging to education.

Many companies and organizations, across various sectors maintain blogs as a way to communicate and update their constituency.  In the last few years I have noticed especially NGOs embracing blogging as a way to market their work and to show progress.  Either way, corporate blogging has spread rapidly and is now an established marketing communication tool for companies.

The only reason I bring up blogging in an economic/marketing context is because ’employment skills’ plays such a large role in discussions about education and education pedagogy.  While it is clear that knowing how to blog is now one of those skills, there are other far reaching benefits of blogging in education and the classroom.  Besides appealing to students in a technologically stimulating way, we can also use blogs to teach children about democratic participation, community building, online ethics, and networking.  In addition to these crucial civic/social skills I have also found some obvious and interesting articles on the uses of blogging in education.

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Entergy and Grants

Posted by mariamengel on August 3, 2011

On the Entergy Grants Application page, information is given about how to apply for a literacy grants for your school or community.  Some of the areas that will be considered are:

Arts and Culture

Community Improvement/Enrichment

Healthy Families

Please visit our “Grants” page at the top of the website for more information on applying for literacy grants.

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Facebook, Social Media & Education

Posted by nicholaspelafas on August 2, 2011

Reading the New York Times, I came across a little news blurb about how Facebook was acquiring the e-book publisher Push Pop Press.  Normally, I avoid things having to do with Facebook, but I have been keeping an eye out for multiliteracy related stories, and I had actually already posted about Push Pop Press’s technology last week.

So why would Facebook buy an e-book publisher?  I really appreciated Push Pop’s approach because it came from an educational inspiration, and their first publication really reflected that.  The thought of Facebook diverting these talented software engineers from the education field to the ‘social networking’ field sort of made me sad.  The NYtimes article pushes some theories, but we don’t know the real motivation.

In an effort not to become more of a Facebook-hater than I already am (lol), I decided to do some searching on Facebook and Education.  Clearly, the role of Facebook in delivering multiliteracies to students (for educational purposes or not) is huge, and I was wondering if a) Facebook recognized this and b) what teachers were saying about it.

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100% Proficient

Posted by tricialauter on July 30, 2011

Recently, several states have raised the bar for students to demonstrate proficiency on state assessments. Michigan has requested a waiver from a law that requires “100% of students be proficient on state exams by 2014″(Higgins, 2011). With this waiver, Michigan’s education departments has increased the standard for students to pass-essentially raising the ‘cut score,’ or  “how well a student needs to perform to pass the standardized tests,” (Higgins, 2011). This new cutoff is thought to be a better indicator of how well a student is prepared to enter college or the workforce, better representing the skills that are needed-the skills that are beyond the “basics.” With this new plan, it is predicted that Michigan will see a drop in proficient students due to the more demanding standards, just as Texas has seen recently.


This change comes in the wake of the Atlanta public schools cheating scandal, as Texas state officials say that they do not want to be accused of inflating the numbers.  The new assessments are “being crafted to ensure that schools are preparing students for college or the workforce,” (Alexendar, 2011). States are feeling the pressure to meet the No Child Left Behind standards, less states, districts, and schools are “punished.” This in turn perpetuates the system of strict accountability driven by standardized tests. While these new assessments put together by Texas and Michigan education departments claim to be more rigorous, to “raise the bar,” and to better prepare students for their future, it leaves me wondering what actual skills are being assessed. Are the skills on a multiple choice test reflective of what a student will encounter after he or she graduates? Do the assessments take into consideration multiliteracies? If students become proficient on these assessments, will they be successful and happy in their lives?

As laid out in previous posts, skills of a multiliterate student go beyond what is acheived through the completion of a standardized exam. It is hard to believe that Michigan and Texas have found the answer to failing test scores.


Alexander, K. (2011). Tally of exemplary schools falls with elimination of controversial measure. The Statesman. Retrieved from

Higgins, L. (2011). Michigan’s education department seeks waiver on federal standardized test goals. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved from|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE.

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How To Do Research on Multiliteracies 101

Posted by nicholaspelafas on July 29, 2011

An important part of understanding the ways in which multiliteracies are useful is studying how people utilize them naturally and what they are inspired to do when exposed to them.  As multiliteracy is a relatively new field of study, it is a crucial time to research how multiliteracies are constructed, and to put that into dialogue with how students are taught to utilize them.  It has to do with a number of factors ranging from intuition, attraction, comfort, familiarity, goals, tasking, and inspiration; I have often wondered what a study of the efficacy of newer literacies might look like.

Surfing the web, I came across an awesome 2008 study by Mercedes Sanz Gil and María Luisa Villanueva Alfonso from the Universitat Jaume I in Spain entitled: A Critical Approach to Multiliteracy: Automates Intelligents.  The abstract reads:

In this paper we present and analyse a website with a complex rhyzomatic structure in connection with the results of a cybertask in which students were asked to read various information sources by navigating a range of websites. The results and discussion include issues such as: a) culture of learning and students’ task representation; b) possible relationships between learning styles and ways of navigating and managing information to solve a task; c) criteria students use to evaluate their navigation practices. Read the rest of this entry »

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Chauvet Cave paintings; is it literacy?

Posted by rlwalte2 on July 27, 2011

Is the ‘oldest art in the world’ an example of multiliteracy? A little background: in 1994, a hermetically sealed cave in France was discovered by three explorers. Inside this cave exists dozens of cave paints of various animals; cave bears, lions, mammoths, rhinos, horse, bison, etc. Radiocarbon dating pins the paintings at some 30,000 years ago. Recently a documentary surrounding the paintings was released, entitled “Cave of Forgotten Dreams”. The film has been circulating film festivals around the country and as I viewed the film at our local film fest the issue of multiliteracies came to me. I contemplated whether this was or was not considered a facet of our exploration here. Although no text exists, I feel the paintings were a form of literacy. Some animals are drawn with 8 legs as to portray movement, which I found fascinating. Whether they were trying to communicate with each other, paint for religious/sacrificial purposes, or potentially to leave a piece of history for the future, I believe this is a fascinating gem of literacy to debate.

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Critical Comedy Against Computer Literacy

Posted by nicholaspelafas on July 26, 2011

Comedy has always been an important avenue for expressing criticism and showcasing the redonkulousness of our society, and I can’t tell you how much I have missed Bill Hicks especially during 9/11, the Bush years, and the economic meltdown.  In this clip from our boy ‘The Big Yin’ Billy Connolly, he rejects computer literacy and technology in general, and laments the day when your address was written with a pen on paper, tickets for airlines were assigned manually, and encyclopedias were straight-forward books.

Clearly Connolly comes from a time period when these things did not even exist, and when there was significantly less people, business, and available information out there in the world.  This simply makes me think of how odd it is that children growing up today might not even know what a fountain pen is (let alone how to write their address in cursive with it), have seen a paper seating chart, or heard of Encyclopedia Brittannica.  In fact, I remember how I was floored when I was 17 years old and met a girl my own age and had never learned how to read a non-digital clock. Read the rest of this entry »

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San Francisco Online Museum

Posted by serovy1 on July 23, 2011

Don’t Touch the exhibit please! This website is an example of the arts being transferred to the web and made accessible to all. This interactive museum teaches eductaors and students alike about the history of San Francisco, and its all free! You can “go in”, find what your looking for, and there’s no need to wait in lines. It’s great.

However, it does make one wonder about how social structures in society are changing, now that people can do it all right from their room. The good ole’ class field trip becomes anticlimactic when you can see it from a screen. Taking guitar lessons with your buddy seems like a moot idea, when you can click your mouse and find a youtube video to teach you without having to meet up with you tutor. However, there is something to be said about organic communication that is not aided by a machine. You tube can’t move your fingers to the right chord, but your buddy can. It is simply richer,in my opinion, to work in the realm of face to face no matter what the topic is. However, if you think about it,it is actually impossible to seperate the two ( organic and technological communications), as so much of our knowlegde now comes from the web. What we talk about, who we see and what we know always goes back to our hours spent surfing the waves of html, youtube and wikipedia, but it is in those moments of real face to face interaction and discussion that we have the chance to break it down and talk about it freely “behind the backs of our computers”. There is no editing, or sharing taking place other than with our five senses, and it just seems more real to me, but I’m rambling now. Anyway, this website is great as a starting point for finding out about the city, but San Francisco also has a world of great 3 dimensional museums to visit as well. Check them ALL out, if you can, if not stick to virtual.

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The Semantic Web-Man Vs. Machine?

Posted by serovy1 on July 23, 2011

“The Semantic Web is a “web of data” that facilitates machines to understand the semantics, or meaning, of information on the World Wide Web.[1] It extends the network of hyperlinked human-readable web pages by inserting machine-readable metadata about pages and how they are related to each other, enabling automated agents to access the Web more intelligently and perform tasks on behalf of users. The term was coined by Tim Berners-Lee,[2] the inventor of the World Wide Web and director of the World Wide Web Consortium (“W3C”), which oversees the development of proposed Semantic Web standards. He defines the Semantic Web as “a web of data that can be processed directly and indirectly by machines.”- Wikipedia

The concept of the symantic web is SCARY, and confusing, but exciting. This new technology takes things a step further, and allows for the computer to recognize not only key words but also the relationship between data on the web. This has wonderful potential to help people in thier research and in building meanings from one another, because it will automatically filter a search more specifically to the material you are looking for. As explained above in the video and in the definition, the semantic web is not an emerging but actually a current technology that developers are actively working on. With the obvious benefits being stated, one can help but also wonder what other outcomes may arise as computers become more like mind reading research assitants and less like machines that we manipulate.

The symantic web seems like it could perpetuate a spirit of laziness that would enable people to remain within more confined realms of information based on the connectins they already have (although the opposite is also true). In all honesty, I’m still trying to process it all, but the idea that a machine can understand me is a bit jarring. Am I thinking faster than my computer,or is it thinking faster than me, and if so, how will this progressively more intelligent symantic web dictate my decisions even further. Have you ever been on facebook tagging photos, and the computer already seems to recognize the faces of your beloved family members and friends before you even type in their names. It Knows who I hang out with!!! I already feel exposed and like other people can find out anything they want about me with the click of the mouse. Now do I have to worry about a computer “knowing” everything too? Is it going to control my mind? This is SCIFI stuff indeed.

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